I just watched “Immortals” (which is basically “300” meets The Village People), and it really brought me back to my childhood fascination with Greek mythology. Suffice it to say I enjoyed the movie, which isn’t really saying much, because I enjoyed even the hideous 1981 version of Clash of the Titans, which rightfully should go down as one of the worst, campiest movies ever made. I guess anything with Greek gods and goddesses floats my boat. Way before I got into comic books like The Uncanny X-Men and The Legion of Superheroes, the denizens of Mount Olympus were my first ever superheroes; they were my first rock stars. I was weaned on my tattered books on mythology, especially worn out were the ones by Bulfinch and Edith Hamilton.
I was blissfully lost in the tales of the all-powerful, yet strangely human characters of Greek mythology. Especially indelible were the stories of the rape of Persephone, Atlas and the peacock, the story of Pandora, and the never-ending battles between Hera and the philandering Zeus.My favorite had always been Hermes (the god, not the bag), or Mercury as the Romans call him. Way before I found out that the ruling planet of Geminis (my sign), was the nimble messenger of the gods, I was already a fan. I was also fascinated by the iffy relationships between the quirky characters: the hotheaded Ares, the noble Phoebus Apollo, the crafty Hermes, the jealous Hera, the motherly but vicious-when-angry Demeter, the coldly cruel Athena, the insecure Hephaestus, the slutty Aphrodite. And as a kid, I found it strangely curious that Zeus would have kids from his own sisters (incestuous much?)
Plus, I found many lessons from mythology that eventually rang true even in the mundane lives of mortals like us. Athena sprung fully grown and in full armor from Zeus’ head during a massive migraine (willful daughters will be a headache to their fathers), Hera punished all the mortal women that Zeus fooled around with while he remain largely unscathed (sounds familiar?), Persephone spends half the year in the underworld because she ate a pomegranate seed from Hades (swallow a man’s seed and you’re screwed), Sisyphus pushes a huge boulder up a hill only for the boulder to roll back down right before he reaches the top (the story of many love lives), Athena turning Arachne into a spider because she beat the goddess during a weaving contest (don’t outshine a bitch or she’ll bitchslap you, bitch), Aphrodite ended up with the deformed blacksmith, Hephaestus (hot chicks end up with dirty old men). So many wonderful lessons I took with me when I grew up.
I was so enrapt in these stories that my elders started warning me not to imbibe these gods and goddess too fully lest I cross over from mere fascination to worshiping false gods. I wasn’t that stupid. I wouldn’t risk spending eternity in fire and brimstone just to worship characters that I saw more like superheroes than actual gods. As I grew up, I then discovered comic books, then more “adult” literature (but we’ll discuss THAT in a separate post), and my love affair with Mount Olympus passed like the golden age of the Greeks that the myths sprung forth from.
Until now. Despite the gay pride-mardi gras costumes and the cheesy dialogue, “Immortals” pretty much capture the zeitgeist of the era. The way they filmed it ala-“300”, where live action seemed rendered in animation. As in most movies involving Greek gods and goddesses, the gods in Olympus are ALWAYS incomplete (there should be 12 Olympians). They always put only the more well known ones like Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, etc. But nevertheless, it had the right feel to get me all nostalgic.
So now, unfortunately, I’m in a Hellenic mood. I was tempted to write this little piece wrapped only in a blanket, loosely strewn about my sinewy body, like a Greek toga, but for the sake of the survival of my relationship, I wisely opted not to. So tonight, when I sleep, I shall soar back to Olympus, my rightful residence, and take my place, among my peers, in the pantheon I call HOME.